The Lions scored two late tries in their 20-19 victory over the Bulls in the U19 provincial final.
The visiting Bulls led 16-8 heading into the last 15 minutes of the match, but the hosts delivered a strong finish to claim a hard-fought, one-point triumph.
Flanker Stephan Nel dotted down in the 58th minute to put the Lions back into the contest. After Bulls flyhalf Tony Jantjies’ fourth penalty, Lions wing Tiaan Putter dived in at the corner to edge his team ahead with only a five minutes left on the clock. The Bulls had possession and momentum on attack at the death, but a stern defensive showing saw the Lions hold on for the win.
The Bulls were favourites heading into the U19 final, having beaten the Lions twice during the league phase (43-24 at Loftus and 37-25 at Ellis Park). However, it was a close contest in the opening 40 with Jantjies and fullback Marais Schmidt trading penalties for a 6-3 half-time scoreline in the visitors’ favour.
A try from flanker Wiaan Liebenberg gave the Bulls the perfect start to the second half. Wing Errol Jagger scored the Lions’ first five-pointer, but Jantjies’ boot gave the Bulls a comfortable buffer. The Lions then crossed the chalk twice in quick succession in the final quarter, with one of the tries converted by Schmidt, to seal the win.
By Gareth Duncan, at Ellis Park